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The Many Names of Slavery

By Seth Mittag

When and where

Date and time

June 14, 2020 · 6:30pm - June 28, 2020 · 8pm CDT


The Holocaust Museum 5401 CAROLINE STREET Houston, Texas 77004


The Many Names of Slavery

THREE TUESDAYS, APRIL 14, 21, AND 28, 6:30–8:00 P.M.


Slavery in the nineteenth century. Convict labor and leasing in the twentieth. Mass incarceration in the twenty-first. Is there a through line? The roots of today’s inequities in Texas can be traced to the state’s settlement by cotton farmers traveling west from the southern United States. Our speakers will guide us to a more informed and nuanced view of Texas history and the efforts to address and end these persistent and corrosive race-based public policies.

April 14: Andrew Torget, historian and professor at the University of North Texas, will give a lecture based on his new book, Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800–1850. Seeds of Empire tells the remarkable story of how the cotton revolution of the early nineteenth century transformed northeastern Mexico into the western edge of the United States. Mr. Torget details how the spectacular rise and collapse of the Republic of Texas, a nation built on cotton and slavery, proved to be a blueprint for the rise and fall of the Confederacy in the 1860s.

April 21: Historian and community activist Reginald Moore began researching the history of convict labor leasing—a practice that dates back to 1878 and continued into the 20th century. He will discuss this and his investigation into the history of the plantations and prisons of Fort Bend County. His work has become nationally known as the result of the 2018 discovery of the remains of 95 African-Americans on a Fort Bend Independent School District construction site. Mr. Moore founded both the Texas Slave Descendants’ Society and the Convict Leasing and Labor Project. His papers reside at Rice University’s Woodson Research Center.

April 28: Sandra Guerra Thompson will present information about contemporary incarceration including the demographics of jail populations, federal sentencing, forensic science, and wrongful convictions. She will also detail reform efforts toward more equitable sentencing. Ms. Thompson is the Newell H. Blakely Professor in Law and director of the Criminal Justice Institute at the University of Houston Law Center. She teaches criminal procedure, criminal law, prisoners’ rights, and prison reform. In 1996, Ms. Thompson became the first Latina tenured professor in Texas.

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Seth Mittag

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